chakraspictureEach time we stretch our bodies, we are having an effect on our energy. In Chinese Medicine, energy is defined as “chi” and it is circling within us and all around us. As Diane Connelly says in Sarah Powers book, “It is only by chi that the planets move , the sun shines, and human beings live and breathe. It is spoken with reverence because it is the basis of life and when gone awry, the basis of disease.” Most of us talk about energy in our everyday lives. We know when we have it and we know there are times we don’t have it. We understand this feeling.

Chi moves through our bodies in paths called Meridians. You can think of them as energy rivers that course through every area of your body. And just like a river needs to move to be healthy, so does chi. Stagnant chi is unhealthy to our bodies just like standing water is in a pond. Eventually that pond will start to build algae and scum. When you have stagnant chi, you may feel sluggish or imbalanced.

The meridians are organized into 5 main pathways. The chart below identifies these paths by the 5 elements in nature and by the Yin/Yang organ pairs that connect with them. Here is how I recommend using this chart. Think about emotions you feel when you are off balance, think of physical ailments you suffer, and then identify what season you are in right now. Look at the meridian path that coordinates with the imbalance or the season, and then focus on nourishing that area.

To find out exactly where these paths circulate in your body, visit the Yin Yoga website for photos and description, http://www.yinyoga.com/ys1_3.2.5.1_lowerbody_meridians.php, or read Sarah Powers book, Insight Yoga.

How do we nourish an organ pair or meridian path? Detoxifying that area is a good start. A good Oriental Medicine doctor can guide you toward how to detoxify that area with herbs, acupuncture, and/ or acupressure. You can also tone those areas with yoga. Much of our yoga practice is about detoxifying the body and eliminating stagnation. Yoga poses can have an effect on the main meridians and also on the organs by:

Directly stretching the meridian pathway, stretching the tissues
Directly or Indirectly applying pressure to organ to improve circulation and tone of the organ
Focused breathwork, pranayama
If you know you are deficient, look to your yoga as a way to cleanse the body.

This article is written by Sarah Lesch and is based on the teachings of Susan Powers and Karin Stephan.